minimum wage

 Two major Democratic initiatives are still short the votes needed to pass, at least in the House, as the General Assembly heads into the final stretch of its spring session.

    

How to deal with Illinois' income tax rate is arguably the biggest issue looming over Illinois politics.

The 5-percent rate is set to rollback in January, but Gov. Pat Quinn wants the higher rate extended permanently, an approach favored by the Democratic leaders of the legislature.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  House Speaker Michael Madigan says there is "strong support" in the chamber for a hike in Illinois' minimum wage. That's one of the big issues in the governor's race.

Businesses don't like it, but a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25, to $10.65 an hour, is before the General Assembly.

Advocates continue to try to drum up the necessary votes.

It appears they'll have help from the powerful Illinois House Speaker. Madigan says it's a matter of "fairness" and "equity."

Gone are the days a candidate can make a campaign appearance before a friendly crowd of party faithful, nearly a year before an election, and think his remarks will fade from memory as fast as the mass-produced fried chicken or roast beef the audience was likely served during the event. 

Gone are the days a candidate can make a campaign appearance before a friendly crowd of party faithful, nearly a year before an election, and think his remarks will fade from memory as fast as the mass-produced fried chicken or roast beef the audience was likely served during the event. 

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  A plan to raise the minimum wage in Illinois has cleared its first legislative hurdle. But as it moves through the General Assembly, it continues to draw criticism from business groups.

The plan would gradually increase the state's minimum wage to $10.65 an hour. Illinois' current rate is $8.25, already one of the highest in the nation.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  As legislators who'll have to vote on a minimum wage increase began debating the issue in Springfield, Governor Pat Quinn was in Chicago promoting it.

Gov. Quinn has been relentless, lately, about increasing Illinois' minimum wage up from $8.25.

His latest push involved going shopping at The Gap for gifts for his nieces. He invited the media to witness it.

Quinn paid $77.49 — cash — for three sweaters.

The Gap's moving to pay its employees $10 an hour. Quinn says Illinois should follow that example.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The battle over raising the minimum wage got lot louder on Wednesday. Several hundred minimum wage workers and union members rallied in the Capitol.

A coalition of unions and activist groups lobbied lawmakers and shared their stories of life on minimum wage.

Rachel Bittenbender is 25 and earning $8.25 an hour. She works just shy of full-time at a fast food restaurant in Dixon, near Rockford.

"After I pay my bills? That's about it," she said. "I have a little bit aside to help with some groceries...and then get my car with some gas if I need it for that week."

  The president of Southern Illinois University came out against raising the state's minimum wage on Thursday. President Glenn Poshard says it'd be too big a hit on the school's bottom line.

While the battle for a higher minimum wage brews in Springfield, Poshard warns of casualties in Carbondale and Edwardsville. Programs at those two campuses, he says, would be hurt in the long run.

"Maintaining the current level of student employment would likely require spending decreases in other areas," he said.

Sen. Dick Durbin
Hannah Meisel / WUIS

  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is criticizing the Republican field of candidates governor for their stances on low-income workers and the unemployed.

It's an ongoing battle the Democratic senator is fighting in Congress, mirrored in the race for the governor's mansion: raising the minimum wage.

The four Republican candidates for governor oppose raising the minimum wage in Illinois, which is currently $8.25 an hour.

One reason they've given is that mostly high school and college students work minimum wage jobs. Senator Durbin says that isn't so.

Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn delivered his sixth State of the State address Wednesday. As Brian Mackey reports, Quinn's speech was pretty much what you'd expect from a man fighting to keep his job despite some of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in America.

Quinn laid out a list of proposals that seem finely honed to appeal to Democratic voters: increasing the minimum wage, doubling a tax credit for the working poor, and requiring at least two days of sick time for all employees.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  A hike in the minimum wage, sending more children to preschool and more grants for low-income college students are all part of the agenda Governor Pat Quinn laid out Wednesday in his State of the State address. But critics are already calling it fantasy.

Five years to the day after he first became governor, Pat Quinn tried to make the case that Illinois is "making a comeback."

Gov. Pat Quinn says raising Illinois' minimum wage is about dignity and decency. 

Quinn reiterated his push Wednesday during his State of the State address. He says he wants to raise the state's $8.25 rate to at least $10 an hour. 

"Our minimum wage workers are doing hard work.  They are putting in long hours.  Yet in too many instances, they are living in poverty.  That's not right.  That's not an Illinois value.  that's not a fair shake."

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn gives his sixth State of the State address at noon today in Springfield. It comes in an election year that has Quinn seeking a second full term as governor.

Quinn has spent a lot of time talking about the state's pension problems in recent years. Now, with a bid for re-election on the line, he's turning to more populist issues, like an increase in the minimum wage.

Here's Quinn last month: "When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault."

ilga.gov

The Illinois House Republican leader says his top priority is legislation meant to reduce unemployment. Jim Durkin’s comments come ahead of Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State Address Wednesday.

Illinois’ unemployment rate last month was 8.6 %. That’s down almost a full point from a year ago.  But House minority leader Jim Durkin - from Chicago’s southwest suburbs - says it’s still too high.

"It’s clearly understandable why we have governors from our surrounding states coming into Illinois seeking to poach our good employers, our good job creators," Durkin said.

Dick Durbin
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to push for an extension of unemployment benefits. He says it’ll be the first priority when the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week.

Durbin says 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January first.

flickr

Raising Illinois' minimum wage has emerged as the first significant campaign issue for candidates hoping to become Illinois' next governor. And it could take center stage throughout the year.  
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to raise the $8.25 hourly rate to at least $10 by year's end. But a coalition of business groups that worry raising the rate would kill jobs say they'll try to stop the efforts.

Next month there'll be an Illinois Manufacturer's Association forum where organizers say minimum wage will be a main topic.  

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week's topics include how the debate over the state's minimum wage may affect the Republican candidates for Governor, and calls for a change of leadership at the state's Department of Corrections.

Amanda Vinicky

  As he campaigns for re-election, Governor Pat Quinn is renewing a push for a hike in the minimum wage.

Illinois' $8.25 minimum wage bests the federal rate by a dollar.Gov. Quinn and other Democrats want to raise it higher; the governor's calling it to go up to $10.

"When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault," he says. "They're going to go out and spend that money at stores in their neighborhood, to help that consumer demand, that creates more jobs."

Gov. Pat Quinn is again making a push for raising Illinois' minimum wage.  
The Chicago Democrat has been visiting black churches in the Chicago area as he ramps up his 2014 re-election bid. On Sunday, he told congregants at Missionary Baptist Fellowship Church that helping those who live in poverty is a principle as old as the Bible.  
Illinois last raised the minimum wage in 2010.  

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